we sit in the middle of an adolescent-ridden mcdonalds, feeding off their free wi fi and bada ba ba-ba: we’re lovin’ it. as much as you can love plotting the next week and a half of your vacation, that is.
it’s 3 in the morning where you are, or where most of you are, and a few of you are still online, facebook bantering well past curfew. two of you are having a discussion about who among us would survive in a horror movie. one of you decides to ask me and, taking a break from learning that driving back out of the outback is going to cost over 2 gs, my answer is quick and painless: mel. one of you agrees with me whole heartedly. in fact, one of you has even managed to come up with the exact order of deaths in said horror movie, with which i myself wholeheartedly agree.
this, of course, as most things tend to do nowadays, leads to a facebook status update which, as in olden times, the three of us decide to chime in on, which leads to an excessive amount of comment boxes under said update, which leads to hugh jackman’s name getting mentioned, which, in my opinion, leads to the death of the joke (and an overabundance of commas).
i state this to the other two of the three of us. dead joke is what i say.
____ ___ says jeanne.
i didn’t hear it. what? i say.
oh god, nothing! she says.
no, what, what is it? jeanne is covering her mouth. what did you say? i say.
ah can’t, sorry. ah can’t.
what? i say.
no, seriously? ah can’t. and please respect the fact that ah can’t tell you.
now mel’s curious.
what did you say? mel says.
what did you say? i say.
ah don’t want to offend you. says jeanne
mel and i share a look. we have to know now.
jeanne shakes her head, goes back to looking at her computer. i think for a minute. oh no, i think. i’ve done something. there’s something she’s not telling me. she doesn’t want to make it a big thing, but it’s something big.
then it hits me. she was responding to whatever it was i said.
what did i say? i think. dead joke is what i said.
dead joke. what could she have possibly–
oh my god! i say.
sometimes, when we want to give someone a retort, but we don’t quite have anything specific to say, we say ‘your mom’. we learned this in grade school.
i said dead joke. jeanne said your mom.
the joke of it is, my mom’s dead.
did you say your mom? i ask.
hand over mouth, jeanne nods as her whole body shakes. there are tears in her eyes.
did you say your mom because i said dead joke and my mom’s dead?
hand over mouth, jeanne shakes her head no. more tears.
i made jeanne cry once before. i told her one my sleepwalking stories. they were tears of joy. i begin laughing, too.
are you laughing? i ask.
hand over mouth, she shakes her head. these are not tears of joy.
jeanne can’t believe she said what she said and now she is crying.
oh jeanne, i say, wrapping my arms around her and pulling her in for the big hug. it’s okay.
in this moment, i love her more than i have ever loved her. i think to myself, this is a beautiful human being having a beautiful human moment. i tell her it’s okay, that it’s funny what she said.
mel looks at me, then at jeanne, then at me, then at jeanne. rinse and repeat.
jeanne uncovers her mouth and wipes the tears away. i’m sorry, she says.
it’s funny, i tell her. it tell her if it’s my mom who’s dead and i’m laughing, then it’s funny.
which it is. isn’t it?